Difference Between Appetizers and Hors d’Oeuvres

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I’ve been asked several times over the years, “what is the difference between appetizers and hors d’oeuvres?” So I thought I’d do a little quiz to give you the answer. It’s a party planner battle: appetizers vs hors d’oeuvres! Test yourself and see how well you know the difference:

hourdouevres vs appetizers how to know the difference

Scenario 1:

You’re invited to a party or reception and arrive to find stations around the room with small bite size offerings. There is a cheese and fruit platter over here, an antipasto platter over there and a display of two – three bite desserts. There is music playing.  In addition everyone is mingling around the room enjoying the food offerings with no formal dinner being served.

Appetizers or Hors d’Oeuvres?

Scenario 2:

At the end of a conference you arrive at the closing banquet.  You are seated and as the music is playing while guests are arriving.  You are served three skewers of chicken satay with a peanut dipping sauce. As dinner continues you are then served a menu of other Asian inspired items that complete the theme of the meal.

Appetizers or Hors d’Oeuvres?

Scenario 3:

After a wedding ceremony you are escorted to a cocktail hour where they have waiters passing around items that may or may not all be themed together, but can be held and eaten in 1-2 bites.

Appetizers or Hors d’Oeuvres?


An appetizer is something you eat before a meal after you have been seated. They are larger than hors d’oeuvres and compliment the menu being served for dinner.  A hors d’oeuvres is more of a finger food and is typically served totally separate from a meal or well in advance of a meal. They are either passed or stationary but are supposed to be eaten in one to two bites.

How did you do in the hors d’oeuvres vs appetizers quiz?

It’s so common, especially around the holidays, to be invited to an “appetizer party” (as they are often called), but now you know that is a misuse of the word. Appetizers connote that a dinner will follow, whereas hors d’oeuvres are commonly found at parties with lots of bite sized offerings with no dinner to follow. Hors d’Oeuvres are often served on individual small tasting plates with cute mini forks that take you back to your tea parties from childhood. So from now on, you’ll host an hors d’oeuvres party with small bites and serve an appetizer while seated at a dinner party.

20 Game Day Recipes - events to CELEBRATE!

Here is one of my all time favorite hors d’oeuvres recipes that I shared last Fall ! This Bacon Cream Cheese Bread Dip will set you up as host of the year!  Spread a little on each crostini and your guests will be begging for the recipe! Bon appetit! 

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